Thursday, December 7, 2006

Will Employers Actually Help?

This is an interesting study - careful tracking of employees through screening and treatment, even accounting for various levels of quality of treatment, to see how much productivity could be improved by working to overcome the depression. I'm more amazed with the process than with the results. The keys to such an enhanced depression screening program working would be twofold:

First, the employers must recognize that the cost of replacing an employee with another, which would not include the cost of depression treatment, would still be higher. Training and development, even for a relatively low-challenge job like fast food, can amount to thousands of dollars. The investment would be a crap shoot if you consider that a lack of depression screening could land another underperforming individual on the payroll.

Second, it must be mandatory, or it will be a failure. Nobody submits themselves for depression screening, or nearly nobody. Half of the depression victims don't realize they have a problem and the other half are too ashamed to admit it. Most of the people with a need would never be identified, so the cost would have no offset in value.

Employers are very results-oriented, so hard data such as these are promising. It is still likely only to be implemented by employers that are independent enough not to have to answer to stakeholders that are so shortsighted that they resist anything without an immediate benefit, and only in industries where employees are likely to stay more than the five years projected by the study as the point at which savings develop.

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